Manatee County Fair's economic boost

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Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013 11:12 pm | Updated: 9:11 pm, Tue Jan 22, 2013.

PALMETTO, FL - Some come for the food, some for the fun, but no matter what brings them there, the Manatee County Fair attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year.  And on opening weekend, fair officials have already set expectations high, saying the 2013 fair will be a record breaker.

This year fair officials are expecting close to 200,000 people, and they say when they come, they spend, benefiting the entire community.

“Probably at least $100 after food and tickets, and we already spent $80 just getting in, and we bought passes for all 11 days,” says fair goer Richard Uptegraff.

And even though having fun there may cost you a little bit, officials with the Manatee River Fair Association say overall, the fair has a huge impact on the local economy. “Throughout the whole community of Manatee County, we use plumbers and electricians and people like that to help us with the fair, and so it's just a whole community effort when it comes to the business community as well,” says fair manager Daniel West.

Just ask Ashley Zappa. She lives right across the street from the fair grounds, and she's out there every year. “We just park cars on our lawn. We have a few customers.” Ashley says she usually makes a few hundred bucks during the fair.

And at Palmetto High School, the fair ends up being a nice little fundraiser. The school charges $5 for parking. “Games for the kids, costs a lot of money, busing you name it, uniforms, just anything to help the kids in our school,” says Kenny Ansboro, Athletic Director at Palmetto High School.

Aside from parking, local school's 4-H clubs also make their fair share. “We have live stock buyers that come in and buy a few hundred head of hogs and beef animals here at the fair from the 4-H students,” says West.

And whether the money is coming in or going out, The fair is all about fun. “I brought the grand kids out to the fair and they're all having a good time. That's what counts,” Julie Zook.

Fair officials say they won't know exactly how much money is made by the fair until a few days after it ends, but they do expect it to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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